The Reality of the Tipping Point – and Its Consequences

TippingPointby N. A. Halkides   8/5/14
During the 2012 Presidential campaign, Mother Jones unearthed a video of Mitt Romney at a fundraiser making what would prove to be a controversial statement.  Members of the Left insisted it was a “gaffe” and did all they could to use it against him.  It became known (sort of) as “The 47% remark.”  Here it is in full:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it — that that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax. … [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

Most of the attacks were concerned with whether Romney had the exact percentage right (see e.g. CBS News’ Fact Checking Mitt Romney’s 47 percent Comment, which admits the 47% figure is correct but then delves into payroll taxes, the low taxes paid by Americans over the age of 65, and other collateral matters), and ignored the far more significant question of whether there truly was a “taker” class in America that would always vote Democratic to retain the goodies supplied them at taxpayer expense.  And it must be admitted that Romney expressed himself very clumsily, although off-the-cuff remarks will seldom be models of eloquence.

But the important question was not whether the figure of 47% should be replaced by 45.6%, or why senior citizens tend to vote Republican despite as a group paying less in income taxes than some arbitrarily-chosen other group, but whether Romney’s observation that there is a large class of voters who vote Democratic because they receive much in government welfare benefits while paying little or no taxes was correct – and it was!   This essential point, which was buried in what he had obviously and imperfectly picked up from listening to others, might be restated more precisely as follows:  with any redistributionist government outwardly democratic in form, there will arise a class of politicians who seek election by promising a segment of voters that they will get lots of other people’s money by voting for those politicians, and there will arise a subset of these voters who respond to the pitch and vote for such politicians specifically in order to receive other people’s money.  In the U.S., these conniving politicians are called Democrats, and they obtain a great advantage in every election through such legalized bribery.  This is not only inescapable in theory, it is demonstrable in practice, although with some difficulty.[pullquote]In the U.S., these conniving politicians are called Democrats, and they obtain a great advantage in every election through such legalized bribery.[/pullquote]

The difficulty arises because precise figures for the voting patterns of welfare recipients and public sector workers (the two most significant classes that take out of the public treasury far more than they contribute, the latter in fact contributing nothing) are not easily available; this article has been delayed for many weeks while the author searched largely in vain for the relevant statistics.  It is rather surprising that no poll or study showing party preference based on amount of government benefits received seems to exist; perhaps it never occurred to the GOP Establishment to commission one and perhaps the Democrats realized the fewer people who think about this subject the better, from their point of view.  The closest I could come was a chart showing that as the amount of household taxes paid became gradually greater than the amount of government benefits received, there was an increasing tendency to vote Republican.  This is not exactly a surprise – why would people not want to keep more of what they have earned, which in general means voting Republican (and then becoming disgusted when the Establishment GOP inevitably sells out)?  And it is known that in the 2012 Presidential election, income was an excellent predictor of preference:  Obama cleaned up with voters making considerably less than $50,000 per year, while Romney easily won among those making more than about $50,000 per year (see this exit poll).  (There is one exception to this:  the super-rich tend to vote Democratic, which is interesting and worth further examination but beyond the scope of this article).   This is certainly consistent with a preference of welfare voters for Democrats since it is fair to assume that as income rises beyond $50,000 people are both collecting fewer government benefits and paying more in taxes, although the picture is obscured somewhat by absurdly complicated tax laws that make the amount of taxes paid not predictable by the amount of income alone.  Also, we should hope that no one is getting $50,000 or more per year on welfare, meaning that welfare-voters are part of a group known to skew heavily Democratic, but there are so many benefit programs out there that we can’t be sure.

Returning to theory, let us examine what happens if and when, in a welfare-state democracy, the class of voters who will vote to maintain their unearned (welfare) incomes or government employee salaries becomes large enough to push the country to the Left beyond the point that a true opposition (i.e. non-statist) party can ever win an election.  Note that this parasitic class need not be a majority by itself; it only needs to be large enough so that when combined with those not a part of it who subscribe to statist ideology they form a consistent voting majority.  And something Romney did not consider, but which is of enormous importance today, is the existence of middle-class entitlements, which function not primarily as income-transfer payments the way programs for the “poor” (i.e., the relatively poor) do but as a method of controlling the middle class, which is largely financing its own programs.  By contrast, “poor” citizens who vote for welfare are supplying relatively little of the monies to be transferred to them, making them technically the more parasitical of the two.  Middle-class voters who are seduced into believing they are getting some sort of free lunch with these entitlement programs probably should not be called “parasites” since it’s really a kind of self-parasitism in which they are compelled to fund government-run programs from which they derive some economic benefit, the amount of which must of course be less than the aggregate amount of the taxes they’re paying because of the great cost in administering these programs.  But many of them do not realize that they would be better off without the programs and instead retaining the taxes they are paying to support those programs, making them more dupes and victims than “parasites”.  And some government workers are of course necessary.  However, as I can find no better description of those who vote specifically to obtain an earned or unearned income from the taxpayer than “the parasite class,” that is the term I shall continue to use.

Numerically, it is clearly possible in theory for the parasite class plus the dedicated socialists (there being as mentioned earlier some considerable overlap between the two groups) to form a permanent majority since the remaining 49% or less can be made to bear the burden of supporting them.  Let us designate this point, at which 51% or more will always vote socialist (in contemporary America, Democratic) as the Tipping Point.  To show that the Tipping Point does in fact exist either we must either supply an example of a democracy that has reached it or else show that a parasite class which votes to benefit itself at everyone else’s expense is fact and not just theory.

Regarding Western Europe, one is tempted to conclude that the Tipping Point has already been reached; the voter in every election there has a choice only between Left and further Left.  Consider the allegedly “conservative” (by American standards) parties that exist:   the Tories (Great Britain), the Christian Democrats or CDU (Germany), and the UMP (France).  What strikes one immediately is how far to the Left these three European parties are:  the Tories never speak of dismantling Britain’s National Health Service (socialized medicine) despite the fact that it is a complete disaster, the CDU openly supports the welfare state but advocates at least some free-market economic ideas, and the UMP is more socially and politically Left than Right, and may fairly be described as socialist-lite.  The CDU seems most like the American Republican Party, while the Tories and the UMP seem to resemble what the GOP would look like if its Conservatives were removed.  But we must beware mistaking the truth of a conditional statement for the truth of its converse, which does not logically follow; as it will be seen later it is true that once the Tipping Point has been reached there will be no true opposition parties, but it does not follow that the absence of such opposition parties means the Tipping Point has necessarily been reached – it may only mean that the ideology of statism dominates the culture.

In America, many Conservatives (including our own indefatigable editor, Brad Nelson) believe the Tipping Point has already been reached, while others think we’re close – and no one thinks we’re at a safe distance from it.  The Democrats winning the popular vote in five out of the last six Presidential elections is certainly an ominous sign.  And yet, the more statistically-minded among us naturally seek some supporting data.  One excellent study alluded to earlier compared the taxes paid and government spending received by households.  The figures are for 1991 – 2004, but are unlikely to have changed much:

“Overall, tax payments exceeded government spending received for the top two quintiles of income, resulting in a net fiscal transfer of between $1.031 trillion and $1.527 trillion between quintiles.”

While I found this dollar amount of income transfers shocking (that’s a whole lot of looting going on), the more significant datum for the present discussion is the approximate “crossover point” at which people go from getting more in benefits than they pay in taxes to the reverse, which is at the third quintile (the point at which 40% of incomes are higher and 60% are lower).  In trying to determine what income amount this represents, I was hampered by the fact that many non-statisticians appear to think there are five quintiles, not four.  What they mean is that the data are divided into five equal parts, but it is the four dividing lines that are technically the quintiles themselves. According to the Census Bureau, the third quintile occurs at an income of $62,434 (Table H-1 for the year 2012).  This is so suspiciously close to the line dividing Obama voters from Romney voters that I cannot believe it to be a coincidence.

If that is not evidence enough, I would point to the facts that the poorest neighborhoods of our inner cities, where welfare is a way of life, vote heavily Democratic (even before being augmented by vote fraud) as do the wealthy suburbs of Washington, D.C. where lives the well-paid (at taxpayer expense) bureaucratic elite.  For myself and I would think most Conservatives, all this is enough to establish the reality of the parasitic class and hence the Tipping Point.  Then there is the entire State of California, in which no Republican holds statewide office and in which it seems inconceivable that any Conservative could ever win such office, which serves as an example of a state past the Tipping Point.  And if there are any Leftists reading this who still aren’t convinced, I’m not going to worry about it because they’re the same people who don’t believe that the IRS targeted Conservatives or that Obama is a radical.

Consequences of the Reality of the Tipping Point

  1. The reality of the Tipping Point implies that democracy by itself is not a sufficient defense against tyranny.  I raise this argument because many Americans of the “moderate” persuasion seem to hold a conscious or sub-conscious belief that as long as there are still elections, the country will be free, and nothing could be further from the truth.
  2. Both income redistribution and unfair, unequal taxation tend to lead to tyranny, therefore both will have to be banned for a free society to be stable.  They are, in fact, two sides of the same coin and are monstrously immoral as well as destabilizing.  Nothing could be more unfair than to allow one citizen to impose taxes on others that he will never pay himself, and nothing could have a more corrupting effect than to allow him to profit personally with unearned income taken from those others by voting for a particular party.
  3. Since by definition no non-statist candidate or party can win (nationwide) election once the Tipping Point is reached, the first effect is to move any nominally non-Leftist parties so far to the left that they are completely statist, disagreeing with the dominant party or parties only on minor details and not on fundamental principles.  Under such conditions, they become in practice merely opposing factions within the dominant party, which I will call “The Party of the State,” and are no longer truly opposition parties.  Thus although the Party of the State need not officially ban “opposition” parties, nonetheless one-party rule will have been achieved.  This significance of this fact cannot be overstated since one-party rule is one of the hallmarks of dictatorship.
  4. At this late stage of the descent into tyranny, not even freedom of the press, should it still exist, will be able to save the remaining forces of freedom except under the most exceptional circumstances.  (And of course by that time free speech will be under concerted attack, as it is today in both the U.S. and Europe).  We have seen in most large cities and in the state of California that once the Party of the State (i.e. Democrats) is in firm control, no amount of mismanagement and catastrophe seems sufficient to dislodge them from power because too many voters are incompetent and/or corrupt and so will continue to vote for them.  (Vote fraud is also a factor in any districts where Republicans might still be competitive for some reason).  This is alarming since it means although liberty may still be advocated and the government criticized for its malfeasance, there are not enough people left who are open to rational persuasion or who care about their freedom to bring about a liberalization of the government by peaceful means.
  5. Since the newborn tyranny cannot be dislodged peacefully, freedom may now only be restored by one of the following methods:
    1. a)Nullification of obnoxious acts and decrees (in the U.S., by a state or a group of states)
    2. b)Secession of one or more states or provinces (within a federated republic such as the U.S. or Canada)
    3. c)Revolution, meaning the government is overthrown (office-holders actually removed from office by force of arms and held under arrest)
    4. d)Complete collapse of society in such a way that the central government can no longer retain effective control of the country.  Such a weakened central government will probably be the case in Afghanistan, for instance, once American forces leave, because it was the case before they arrived.  The idea is that the forces of freedom can then march in and simply take over without firing a shot, much as Fortinbras claims the empty throne of Denmark at the end of Hamlet.  Readers of Ayn Rand will also recognize this as the conclusion of Atlas Shrugged.  I myself am unconvinced this could work in Western Europe or America, where it seems to me that unlike Afghanistan there would still be internal security forces and perhaps a corrupted army to be overcome if it cannot be persuaded to stand down, and where of course by that time private firearms will have been confiscated.  There would probably also be a number of local “warlords” each of whom might seek to extend his rule, and they would have to be overcome as well.  It might work, however, at the level of city or even state government – a subject for another day.
    5. e)A combination of massive civil obedience with some other as yet undiscovered methods of resistance which in combination compel the government to give in to the demands of the freedom forces.  This might be a method by which the Left could be compelled to accept either secession or else new Constitutional limitations on its power.  I have included this as a theoretical possibility, but how it might work in isolated practice is hard to see, especially against the modern-day Left which is extraordinarily loathe ever to give up the slightest degree of power.

I will take up these possibilities in detail at a later time.

If the Tipping Point Has Not Yet Quite Been Reached

If the Tipping Point has not been reached, then it is imperative to win some elections and to move the country to the right after winning.  To win elections, a principled attack on the ideas of the Left must be mounted, and to move the country to the right government must actually shrink – reducing the rate of its growth is not enough.  This is obvious when we consider the process by which the country was moved left in the first place:  larger government meant more welfare dependents and more government workers.  Smaller government means fewer welfare dependents and fewer government workers, meaning fewer votes for the Party of the State.  Republicans squandered a priceless opportunity in 2000 when they held Congress and the quirks of the Electoral College resulted in George W. Bush being elected President instead of Al Gore – they spent money at a faster pace than had taken place under Bill Clinton, moving the country further Left and setting the stage for the Democratic victories of 2006 and 2008.

The GOP Establishment, when it is not pursuing policies such as massive third-world immigration sure to lead to its extinction as an opposition force, sometimes acts as though it wishes to win elections but when it does win it moves the country to the Left as if it were the Democrats, or at best engages in a holding action (this is the infamous “ratchet effect”).  It is for this reason among others that the highest political priority for American Conservatives at the present time must be to either take control of the Republican Party or to destroy it and replace it with a Conservative Party, for only in that way can we move this country away from the precipice – assuming we have not already fallen over.


Nik is a freelance writer, former professor, and has written for FrontPage Magazine.
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40 Responses to The Reality of the Tipping Point – and Its Consequences

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    The basic error Romney made was that there were 3 very similar percentages (those who would vote for Obama no matter what, those who pay no income taxes, and those who are basically recipients of government money) that overlap heavily but aren’t quite identical groups. (For example, as many pointed out, older voters on Medicare and Social Security gave a majority of their votes to Romney.) Unfortunately, his basic point was (and is) quite correct. Your own analysis seems all to accurate. The situation isn’t quite hopeless yet, but it’s getting very close. If the Republicans botch up in (or after) 2016, it probably will be.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      The basic error Romney made was….

      I think the basic error Romney made was in exposing this nasty little dealing that is taking place between the citizen and the state. There are entire constituencies being bought and paid for. To expose this corrupt connection is to expose the lies of both the politicians and the people who take their bribes in the form of “free stuff.”

      But if you consider what he said not as a mistake but as a bit of necessary truth-telling, then his actual mistake was not following it up and asking the American people if we can afford what is, in effect, an ingrained slobocracy wherein everyone is a victim, where moocherism is incentivized, and the productive and law-abiding members of society are viewed like a vampire bat views a healthy cow.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Very good point. Of course, when I was talking about his error I was referring to his factual slip-up (a natural consequence of his making an off-hand comment; one must also remember that we don’t have a full, complete transcript, so he may well have given a more accurate account that somehow didn’t make it into the tape surreptitiously arranged by Jimmy the Creep’s progeny). But once he had been caught, his best move might have been to ask whether America could afford all that “free stuff” forever. Whether this would have worked, I don’t know. But what he did failed anyway.

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Smaller government means fewer welfare dependents and fewer government workers, meaning fewer votes for the Party of the State.

    I am convinced this is one of the main drivers behind the present lawlessness on immigration. Not only are the illegal aliens Democrat voters in waiting, but by legalizing those here and bringing in millions of others, the number of welfare dependents will grow hugely. With this growth, we can expect the growth of government bureaucracy which will be required to administer the government programs which serve the increased welfare recipients. This is something the Left would call a “virtuous circle”.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I’ve seen the argument made (and by a liberal, Theresa A. Funiciello in Tyranny of Kindness) that the reason why LBJ took his approach to welfare back in the 1960s was to hire large numbers of social workers who would join with the welfare recipients as a natural constituency for high welfare spending. This is why there are all sorts of programs with a lot of red tape involved instead of relying on something like a negative income tax. It makes the government very inefficient in terms of its nominal job, but more important to the Party of the State is the increased support.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        And imagine the backlash from these government worker types when voters finally get fed up and vote the Dems out of office and the Rep or conservative tries to cut back perks.

        This was a big part of the reason Scott Walker was so viciously attacked in Wisconsin.

        Most politicians have neither the stomach or desire to shrink anything to do with government.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          We see this also in the determined viciousness with which public school “teachers” fight against any form of school choice (including forcing them to send their own children to public schools). Polly Williams found this out a quarter century ago in Wisconsin (and she was a liberal who had led Jesse the Jetstream’s campaign in that state in 1988).

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    A poll cited in the latest Townhall magazine (which I picked up last Friday when we went to Barnes and Noble) says that 61% of Americans favor a smaller government rather than Big G. Of course, this attitude tends to go off the rails when it comes to specifics, but as long as people generally feel that way, I suppose there’s still hope.

    • Libertymark says:

      It all depends on whose ox is being gored. This is why the Dems agitated seniors against Paul Ryan, Granny over the cliff and all that.

      I hold there is little or no hope in diminishing Leviathan, except for the possible scenarios you outlined, none of which bode well for the civil society.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        True, but remember that a majority of senior citizens do vote Republican, so most don’t fall for those ads. (Of course, they also aren’t really at risk of having their Social Security and Medicare wiped out. But such voters are probably willing to accept reforms of some sort.)

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    And something Romney did not consider, but which is of enormous importance today, is the existence of middle-class entitlements, which function not primarily as income-transfer payments the way programs for the “poor” (i.e., the relatively poor) do but as a method of controlling the middle class, which is largely financing its own programs.

    That’s a terrific point, Nik. And if it is true that our unfunded socialist entitlement liabilities are $90 trillion (at minimum), then the middle class isn’t actually financing its own programs….or at least very soon will not be.

    I’m still reading through your fine and thoughtful article, but another way to look at this current welfare state (considering how much is going to the elderly…and I don’t have specific statistics on that) is that it is the transfer of wealth from the young to the old. The “tipping point” may be less a function of some generational welfare queen (as harmful as that is to them personally) and more a function of Social Security and Medicare. And with the addition of socialized medicine, everyone (even more than before Social Security) has a far more intimate and dependent relationship with the government than ever before, regardless of age or income.

    This is no doubt why the Republicans have positioned themselves to be just better managers of the welfare state. They understand that there is *no* significant constituency that is not hooked on entitlements as a way of life.

    • NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

      Thanks, Brad. And that is another reason why we must be careful not to be too-easily impressed by the “achievements” of various Republican state governors or former governors who now aspire to the Presidency – not one of them has had the slightest success at reigning in entitlement spending, and unless we do this at the federal level, we’re doomed to economic collapse.

      And reducing government dependency is of course another reason to repeal Obamacare. Formal repeal of Medicare and Social Security will not be possible, so the best we can do there is to gradually privatize them until they no longer have anything to do with the government.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        One thing to point out is that Medicare is virtually mandatory for senior citizens. If you don’t join when you’re first invited to do so, but do join later on, you pay some sort of heavy penalty (I don’t know the details). So unless you feel certain that you’ll never use it (which is true for very few people), you join immediately. This happened to Elizabeth, who had a perfectly satisfactory plan at work but still got on Medicare rather than face the penalty later. No doubt a change here would be helpful.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    By contrast, “poor” citizens who vote for welfare are supplying relatively little of the monies to be transferred to them, making them technically the more parasitical of the two.  Middle-class voters who are seduced into believing they are getting some sort of free lunch with these entitlement programs probably should not be called “parasites” since it’s really a kind of self-parasitism in which they are compelled to fund government-run programs from which they derive some economic benefit, the amount of which must of course be less than the aggregate amount of the taxes they’re paying because of the great cost in administering these programs.  But many of them do not realize that they would be better off without the programs and instead retaining the taxes they are paying to support those programs, making them more dupes and victims than “parasites”.  And some government workers are of course necessary.  However, as I can find no better description of those who vote specifically to obtain an earned or unearned income from the taxpayer than “the parasite class,” that is the term I shall continue to use.

    That’s all very well said, Nik. And one of the dynamics of this relationship to government is that with the middle class (whether duped or otherwise) voting themselves ever more “free stuff” — and as long as they are living in relative prosperity (a big if in coming years) — they will feel obliged to support any program that professes to be for “the poor.” In essence what you have here is a burgeoning Cult of Government.

    One of the pithy defenses of homosexual marriage that I’ve used in the past (more of a rhetorical talking point than anything) is that it isn’t homosexual marriage that is the greatest threat to marriage and the family. It’s no-fault divorce, Social Security (which snips the dependent relationship between parent and child), Medicare, and all the rest. As horrific as it is to see blacks being turned into just another type of plantation dependent on the low end, I think we must confess the true rot that has set into the middle class, and very much facilitated by the middle class itself.

    Over and over again when debating with “conservatives” on Facebook I’ve heard “But hands off my Social Security.” And the sad fact is that this is indeed a Ponzi scheme and there are far better ways to plan for one’s retirement, even if it was a government-mandated method. You see the tiger of irrationality unleashed (and preyed upon) by these schemes which, as you said, are (at best) little more than returning tax money to people after having first syphoned off the usually enormous administrative costs.

    But once you dump people into this scheme, it’s then the Lifeboat Mentality. “Hands off my Social Security.” You would think a simple and reasonable chart or graph showing how much more people could earn via real investments (even if government-mandated) would convince them to scrap SS tomorrow for other methods (even if statist methods) that have proven more effective. But this hasn’t happened if only because of the Lifeboat Mentality that erupts whenever “free stuff” is handed out.

    Thus we see (as I think you may agree) that the “parasite class” is in no way restricted to the welfare queens and deadbeat dads.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      To be fair, someone who has been forced to pay into Social Security and Medicare for their entire working life has a right to expect something back for that. This is one way that such programs work as traps. Still, there’s a big difference between expecting something back and demanding as much as possible regardless of its effect on workers today. Note that Republicans at least make some efforts to reform Social Security and Medicare (which gets them attacked in ads, literally, as trying to throw Granny off the cliff). This makes them inherently superior to the Democrats, who are unwilling to do anything to avert the coming deluge.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        To be fair, someone who has been forced to pay into Social Security and Medicare for their entire working life has a right to expect something back for that. This is one way that such programs work as traps.

        Actually, they might think they have a “right” to expect something back. But what they have been paying is a tax. As I explain to people, there is no set-aside anywhere. There is no Social Security trust fund. There is no money sitting in some account with your name on it accruing interest. It’s a tax. It’s a simple tax on Peter to pay Paul.

        And that really exposes the dark soul of this Ponzi scheme. All those nice old grey-haired ladies and calloused old men expect — nay, demand — that young people pay for their old age…even while the burdens on the young increase.

        Granted, many of these burdens put on the yutes have been because of their dim-bulbed Progressive ideology. They keep voting for the Obama types because of the sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll platform (one consistent with libertarian ideology as well). As long as you can fornicate with whomever you want, and the government pays for your birth control, who cares if socialized medicine and other “free stuff” leads to higher costs, worse coverage, and decreased quality? And on and on. Just as the middle class is being played for fools, so are the yutes.

        In some sense, seniors can laugh all the way to the bank (assuming there isn’t some mass uprising at some point, which is a possibility when the money runs out and/or inflation takes its toll). The costs of providing proverbial sluts, such as Sandra Fluke, with free contraceptives is a drop in the bucket. Even if the government paid for all contraceptives, all abortions, all gay marriages, and even all the dope for the Paulbots, it would be a small drop in the ocean of entitlements given to the elderly.

        I officially declare that — whatever my financial situation — I have no god-given right to force the young to pay for me. That people have been lied to about this Ponzi scheme is beside the point. It’s a tax. And taxes (unlike, say, an actual savings account in my name that is set aside somewhere) can be revoked or reduced.

        And this will surely come to pass at some point. If there are over $90 trillion in unfunded socialist entitlement liabilities, the books will have to be balanced somehow. Short of putting gramps and granny in front of a firing squad and eliminating “surplus” population, that means reducing benefits.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          In Singapore each worker has a personal “Central Provident Fund” retirement account. This account belongs to the person, not the government. The worker and employer deposit funds into the account every month on a tax-free basis. The money in the account is set aside for retirement. If a person leaves the money in a savings account, it will draw a very small interest. But people can invest in certain stocks, bonds, etc. And they can use the funds to pay for their homes.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            There was a brief effort to do something like that here a decade ago, pushed by Bush and some others (such as Louisville’s own Anne Northup). But no Democrat would go along, and most Republicans were still too fearful. Now there’s probably no hope whatsoever.

        • NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

          Tackling Social Security will indeed be tough. I can only suggest gradual privatization, while carefully preserving the “Social Security” brand name to avoid panicking people, and paying as much of the promised benefits to seniors as we can. Our ultimate goal should be a “Social Security” program that is completely private and independent of government, except perhaps for some state-level solvency tests.

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    the third quintile occurs at an income of $62,434 (Table H-1 for the year 2012).  This is so suspiciously close to the line dividing Obama voters from Romney voters that I cannot believe it to be a coincidence

    It’s interesting to consider the probable centrality of consumerism and materialism as a cultural and psychological factor. I make significantly less than $62,434, yet I am a conservative. And exceptions do not make a rule. But it used to be the case that a man in this country — think of some relatively poor, but self-sufficient farmer — made a humble living but was honest in his dealings. That was the American standard. There were many others measure of success than just raw accumulation. There was family, church, community, integrity, wisdom and, last but not least, the idea of freedom.

    If we step back just a moment, we can see just how much the entitlement mentality has infected all levels. The very idea of the principle or merit of a thing entering the equation (the “oughts” aspect of it) is no longer talked about. Instead we have become Americans defined by different economic levels. And like Pavlov’s dog, we are expected to respond according to that level. This is Cultural Marxism come home to roost quite thoroughly where man is primarily measured as a function of economics and no more.

    And don’t take that for a moment as a rebuke of Nik digging into the demographics. This is good and necessary work. But just do step back now and then and see how America and Americans decide these issues. There is little talk of right and wrong, of freedom, of values other than how much money or “stuff” one has. And this is a fair sign that we have become homo economicus, and barely behind Europe in terms of its burnt-out secular stain.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      But it used to be the case that a man in this country — think of some relatively poor, but self-sufficient farmer — made a humble living but was honest in his dealings. That was the American standard. There were many others measure of success than just raw accumulation. There was family, church, community, integrity, wisdom and, last but not least, the idea of freedom.

      That this is no longer the norm is due, in large part, to the universal acceptance of the materialist philosophy. Even many the so-called Christians have fallen for this lie, not to mention the Leftists and loony Libertarians.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Even many the so-called Christians have fallen for this lie

        I can’t speak for her, but I suppose that was at the heart of Patricia’s recently article regarding the “prosperity” church.

        There’s a part of me — even if I was rolling in money — that just could not physically buy a $2500.00 bicycle even if I had the money. Does an Olympic racer need one? Sure…and they commonly have bikes of over twice that expense.

        Excess has become an American trait, as well as taking status way past where it is safe to go. Never should we suppose we’ll ever be a classless society. But I have to tip my hat to Dinesh D’Souza who point out that only in America would a table of millionaires meeting for lunch refer to the minimum-wage waiter as “sir.”

        This (other than his principled American conservatism) was likely Reagan’s magic. He had the common touch, and it was not a touch that was a mere affectation. He was a man who put his pants on one leg at a time quite unlike the Anointed One whose pants crease so stimulated David Brooks that he commented on it.

        Sarah Palin has the common touch. And “common” in no way means unsophisticated, for American history teaches us that the early Colonists prided themselves on their literacy. They wanted to be informed and educated, no matter if they were humble farmers or cobblers.

        And having a nice pants crease is no guarantee of the kind of sophistication that counts.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Ooh, what a neat skewering of David Brooks in that last sentence (and he certainly deserves skewering)!

          I think the excess is in fact closely linked to the pursuit of status, since the latter is based not on personal reputation (which, as Iago rightly observed, can easily be false) but on high-value possessions. This leads to buying things not because they’re needed (as Elizabeth and I need a large house to store our books) but to look impressive.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Ayn Rand once argued that the Right was laissez-faire on economics because their concern was morality, whereas the Left was laissez-faire on morality because their concern was economics. Each wanted to control its major concern. There remains a great deal of truth to it, though in fact libertinism is actually very anti-libertarian in its demands for mandated approval. (In fact, this is one way of separating genuine libertarians from libertinist pseudo-libertarians. The former may support tolerance of libertine behavior, but not the mandated approval of it.)

      • NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

        Yes, Rand did say that, Tim. But as I mentioned in The Conservative/Objectivist Schism, Rand gave us Conservatives far too little credit for being the principled defenders of freedom we are, apparently confusing us with Establishment Republicans – no wonder, then, that she didn’t like us!

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Ayn Rand once argued that the Right was laissez-faire on economics because their concern was morality, whereas the Left was laissez-faire on morality because their concern was economics.

        As always, we must distinguish between what the doctrine says and what the political operative does. It was stunning to read a substantially solid and conservative Republican platform even when John McCain or Mitt Romney were leading the ticket. The ideals are good. The actual party and personnel who are supposed to carry them out often have other goals in mind.

        The same regarding “the right” in terms of economics. In fact, first of all, if Rand said the Left was laissez-faire on morality because their concern was economics then she wasn’t aware of the true ends of the Left. Economics for the Left (as it is for the right) is the means toward attaining a world view.

        For the right, economics is an expression of, and prime function of, liberty. The two go hand-in-hand. It’s generally agreed by conservatives that you can’t have economic liberty without political liberty, and vice versa. Our form of government is, in a very real sense, predicated on the ability of some kid to set up a lemonade stand on the sidewalk and not be hassled by the state.

        For the Left, economics is something to be controlled by the state because the state (when run by Leftists) knows best. And simply amassing power is the means of achieving the Left’s ends. And it’s no surprise that this habit of amassing power becomes an semi-autonomous driving force and ideal of its own. This is half the point of socialized medicine. If you can control people’s bodies you can control them. And if you can control people’s ability to make a living (or at least control the profits they make), then you control them. Outside of all the market spiel, this is what the Left is about. Does anyone actually see a true desire to improve medicine in Obamacare? Truly?

        As for libertarians, their ideology is so disjointed and simplistic that it’s difficult to say much about it other than that their vision of utopia is an atomized society where there is no overriding theme, force, or structure other than private contracts between individuals. This is why foreign policy seems like a needless thing to them, if not government itself. They, along with the Left, share the naive view of human nature popularized by Rousseau: Men are naturally good and will work for the benefit of themselves and others if not warped by some force outside of or above them.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          An important point to remember is that Rand was laissez-faire in both economics and morality. Therefore, she was emotionally incapable of seeing how libertinist morality in the long run is incompatible with laissez-faire capitalism.

    • NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

      Brad – you’re quite right to point out that the essential questions are moral – the majority shouldn’t want to steal the property of the minority, yet bitter experience shows that they will be sorely tempted to do so given the opportunity. The way this article came about initially was not as the demographic survey it sort of ended up being; rather, I wanted to quantify just how much the forces of freedom in this country are being hurt by the other side’s ability to buy votes. I wanted an answer to the question of how many millions of votes Republicans spot the Democrats in each and every Presidential election.

      I didn’t exactly get the answer, but I did establish the reality of the Tipping Point, whose existence has been explicitly or implicitly disputed by some, and I think that reality is of enormous consequence for the reasons given. It also points the way to the correct path to follow should our side ever be elected (or otherwise find itself in power), a subject I broached only slightly.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        And remember, the leeches include not only welfare recipients and government employees, but rent-seeking corporations who happily choose to rely on government favor (the sort parodied at thekronies.com). The recent antics of the Chamber of Commerce have been an excellent reminder. And whatever moral case one might make for taxing the rich (and middle-class) to help the poor, there can be none at all for taxing the middle-class to help the rich.

  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    but I did establish the reality of the Tipping Point

    You did indeed, Nik. And it’s interesting to note from Annie’s article about Whittaker Chambers that Chambers long ago thought America was lost to Communism. I think he, much like Mr. Kung, had the advantage of seeing the changes happen, and not just incrementally. Mr. Kung has made mention of his travels and having come back to America after a number of years to find it “fundamentally transformed” long before that notion became a cliche. And I think Chambers understood the Communist precursors well enough (and as few others have) that he saw the dire straights (a pretty good band, by the way) that America was in even decades ago.

    I don’t claim the wisdom of either of those fellows, but I do believe that once the precursors are in place, the rest is just a matter of it playing out. Like they say, a thousand mile journey beings with only one step. When security becomes valued over liberty in the minds of the mass of people, this is going to play out a certain way. When a French-like “equality” (in all things, not just under the law) is valued over freedom — and that is where we are today — the ground has changed and will grow new things. The new river (political law, the culture, and everything else) will flow according to this new landscape. We were already “fundamentally changed” before our evil Marxist-in-Chief ever uttered those words.

    Environmentalism, as most conservatives know, is a direct arm of Communism. It’s an assault on private property under the marketing guise of being a caretaker of nature. The useful idiots buy the marketing but the Communists know that the end game is eradicating private property.

    The useful idiots may think that homosexual marriage is about “diversity” or “tolerance,” but it’s actually about de-legitimizing and dis-empowering the family. And it’s fueled by a hatred of the “paternal order” that the Left despises. So, of course, single-parent families led by mothers are going to be romanticized and lauded. And the useful idiots among us will never realize until it’s too late that the end game of the Communists is to eliminate the political and social force of the family unit so that the Commissars of government can run our lives.

    I think Whittaker saw further than most. When the character of a people begins to change from one thing to another, we may not notice it when it happens in increments or when each small change is lauded as a new freedom. And the freedom Americans are more and more being led to, and grasping for, is the freedom from consequences and the freedom from responsibility. Whether this character flaw was induced by FDR’s many social programs (and those which followed him) or the success of our way of life which made us soft and forgetful regarding the necessities involved in safeguarding our freedom and prosperity, I don’t know. It’s probably some of both as well as other elements as well.

    In many ways the true tipping point is the point when most men will find a lost wallet and keep the money. It’s those small things (many based upon The Ten Commandments) that set us above the mob, above the animal-like nature of a “democracy” where “the will of the people” is romanticized into something it has never been and never will be. True democracy is three wolves deciding to have the two sheep for dinner. And we have a stand-in wolf that we have voted into the presidency. And many eye the sheep they’d like to fleece. They are often called “the rich” but as we saw with the IRS and other scandals and insults, these would-be sheep are also called “Christians” or “conservatives.”

    Then there is the entire State of California, in which no Republican holds statewide office and in which it seems inconceivable that any Conservative could ever win such office, which serves as an example of a state past the Tipping Point.

    That reminds me as well that there has been another quite fundamental change in our republic. Western Civilization used to be known as “Christendom,” and for good reason. It was the set of beliefs and ethics that infused and guided our society, however imperfectly the leaders of the churches have been through time. Now the reigning religion is Leftism. And so long as we have no threats, foreign or domestic, and so long as there is an endless supply of money that can be taxed or printed, no one need ever suffer from the tenets of this religion. It can be as the Left envisions it. We all kumbaya with one another, all seeking to self-actualize via sex and artistic endeavors. And we can do so because we’ve been freed from the paternalism of the family and freed from the corruption brought on by capitalism. And eventually we can all be in the soft and dependable hands of a caring government where our housing, health, education, and more are all taken care of for us by benevolent overlords. Why, there may not even be a need to work.

    This is rarely stated, but this is the religion of California. Yes, it gets sidetracked as all utopias do. The system is a vast mechanism for union control and corruption. But this is the religious-like vision of the libtards in California and elsewhere. Yes, people still have to go to work and make a living. But the end goal is to (somehow) eradicate this necessity. This is what is behind the never-ending desire to increase the minimum wage laws. And this is what is behind more and more people (cheaters and moochers) getting on Social Security disability. And from what I can see, the military itself is turning into a jobs program. Sorry, ladies, but I hope to hell most of the 110 pound thin little women I see all over the place in camouflage have desk jobs and aren’t actually taking the place of well-muscled men in combat roles.

    When a society believes that the formula of “something for nothing” is a distinct possibility, then that society is doomed to little but various bouts of disasters and failures. But the dream of an earthly utopia stays alive. It’s a powerful draw. And in the minds of these kooks (for I do believe as Michael Savage does that liberalism is a mental disorder), it’s enough to construct one branch of the utopian tree (a minimum wage increase, gay marriage, women in the military, free contraceptives, etc.) — even if three other branches rot and fall off at the same time. There is too much ego and power committed to the dream to ever face the facts.

    The stories a few decades ago about California falling into the sea may, in some Freudian way, have been based on a collective unconscious or intuitive grasp that what was happening then in California decades ago would eventually destroy the state. They are in a race with most of Europe to see who falls into the ocean first.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Excellent observations. You could expand this into a book.

      And I am pleased you like my most famous aphorism;

      Like they say, a thousand mile journey beings with only one step

    • NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

      Brad – you should have published this separately so it could stand on its own as something more than a reply.

      There is one tiny ray of hope that I feel we should not lose sight of, namely, the battle currently raging between us Conservatives and the Republican Establishment. What it means is that there are some of us who still hold to the American ideal and who are willing to fight for it, and if we can establish control of a political party, either the GOP or a new Conservative party, we can finally start actually fighting the Left instead of watching Establishment Republicans continually lose by default.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        If nothing else, the incumbents mostly have tried to appease the conservatives. It would be far better if they truly understood why they should do this (and cared), but a conservative vote out of fear is at least an improvement over a liberal vote no matter the motive.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        If I did, Nik, what should I call it?

  8. Timothy Lane says:

    This may be as good a place as any to mention an article by Jerry Newcombe (available at townhall.com) on charity. Citing another source, he suggests that to be repeatedly generous is harmful, as such gifts start out as being appreciated, then anticipated, then expected, then treated as an entitlement, and finally a form of dependency.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      That article you mentioned can be found here: 50 Years of the War on Poverty.

      President Reagan delivered his “Radio Address to the Nation on Welfare Reform” (2/15/86).

      The 40th president said, “In 1964 the famous War on Poverty was declared and a funny thing happened. Poverty, as measured by dependency, stopped shrinking and then actually began to grow worse. I guess you could say, poverty won the war. Poverty won in part because instead of helping the poor, government programs ruptured the bonds holding poor families together.”

      Ronald Reagan added: “…the waste of money pales before the sinful waste of human potential—the squandering of so many millions of hopes and dreams.”

      The failure of poverty programs is so abundantly clear that there are only two explanations for why they continue:

      1) They are vote-getters for politicians
      2) It’s been a way for our increasingly materialistic and narcissistic culture to compartmentalize their duty to their fellow man. By supporting government poverty programs (whether they do good or not) allows them to say “I gave at the office.”

      Actually helping people requires suffering. That is the root of the word “compassion,” to suffer with. There are, of course, nice aspects of it, but it’s generally a hard and often thankless task.

      It is no easy task to be in contact with people who are, frankly, some of the dregs of the earth. Only if driven by an image of every human being being made in God’s image can this task be done, otherwise why would one bother? I mean, many of these “unfortunate” people are very disgusting and unpleasant people for a variety of reasons.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Another article I just came across that’s also relevant to this posting is by John Hayward (at humanevents.com). The article is on the African summit, and especially Obama’s uncritical embrace of a series of brutal African dictators (of course, he wishes he could be just as dictatorial, and perhaps also as brutal, as they’re able to get away with being). But at the end Hayward says that he sees Barry Zero as the leader of Hospice America — making everyone comfortable on our nation’s deathbed.

  9. Timothy Lane says:

    Mark Steyn has a nice piece on his website that looks at the decline of Americans from free citizens to subjects. In particular, he looks at the obsessive nanny-statism that leads to restrictions on cupcakes (such as at bake sales) at the behest of the Black Queen (aka Bitchy Michie), or vintage cars, or vintage bagpipes (some guys who had gotten the appropriate paperwork nevertheless had theirs confiscated because they crossed back from Canada at a site in Vermont that didn’t officially accept such paperwork). His conclusion is that we need the spirit of liberty — which means we need to fight back against all such efforts, even if we don’t go to bake sales or have a vintage car or vintage bagpipes.

    • Libertymark says:

      The spirit of Liberty is what Dinesh D’Souza calls in his book America “the spirit of 1776” (vs. “the spirit if 1968”).

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